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How to Get the Most Out of Your Home Exercise Equipment

Holly Smith

By: Holly Smith, M.D. - Osteopathic Medicine, B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer,

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

home exercise equipment

Is that home exercise equipment you bought at the beginning of the year or at start of lockdown now gathering dust in a corner?

While some quarantine restrictions have started loosening up, most gyms remain closed. And even when they start opening, many people will continue their workouts from home.

Now is the time to make the most out of your home exercise equipment!

When gyms closed down due to COVID-19, it meant finding a way to stay in shape from home. And while bodyweight exercises are a great way to do this, adding in some exercise equipment adds an additional layer of variety and challenges to these exercises.

Buying home exercise equipment is the easy part. The next step is figuring out how to best utilize this equipment to get in great shape without ever having to step foot in a gym.

If you’ve found that the gym equipment you bought is now gathering dust in a corner, now is the time to break out the exercise bands and dumbbells and start putting them to good use.

Here are some of the top exercises you can do with home fitness equipment to help you get the most out of your home gym.

Resistance Bands

Resistance bands are the ultimate home training tool.

Not only can you target every muscle group with a set of bands, but you can store them or travel with them easily.

Research has shown that workouts with resistance bands provide a great training stimulus for muscle activation.

When done correctly, you can even obtain similar muscle strength gains to free weight exercises.

Try out some of these great compound resistance band exercises to get the most out of this piece of home exercise equipment.

Compound movements are great for muscle development and allow you to target multiple muscle groups at once.

You can also slow down the movement to really feel the muscles under tension while you do these exercises.

Squat to Shoulder Press

  • Stand on a resistance band with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Hold a handle in each hand at shoulder height with your palms facing away from you.
  • Move your body down into a squat while keeping the handles at your shoulders.
  • As you stand back up from the squat, extend your arms to push the handles up into the air above your shoulders.
  • Extend your legs at the same rate you extend your arms.
  • Lower your arms back down to your shoulders.
  • Repeat 8-10 reps for three sets total.

Standing Bent Over Rows to Bicep Curls

  • Stand with both feet on a resistance band, about hip-width apart.
  • Hold one end in each hand.
  • Bend your knees slightly and hinge forward at the hips, keeping your back flat, arms straight, and hands under your shoulders.
  • Bend your elbows to pull the band toward your chest, keeping your elbows close to your body.
  • Then straighten your arms and lower back down.
  • Next, stand up straight and curl the bands up while keeping your elbows close to your sides.
  • Pause at the top then slowly lower back down.
  • That is one rep.
  • Complete three sets of 10-12 reps.

Push Up to Front Arm Raise

  • Loop a resistance band around the soles of your feet and hold the handles in each hand while in a push-up position.
  • Bend your elbows to lower down into a push-up.
  • Push your arms back up, and at the top of the push up raise your right arm until it is parallel to the floor.
  • You will have to slightly shift your weight to the left, however, try to keep your back as straight as possible.
  • Lower your arm back down to the floor and perform another push-up.
  • Once at the top then raise your left arm into the air and lower back down.
  • Continue the push-ups and alternating arm raises until you complete 5-6 on each side.

Dumbbells

If you have a set of dumbbells at home, you can do just about any workout that you would do in the gym.

The limiting factor, obviously, is how much weight and how many dumbbells you have.

You can use a lighter weight and up the intensity and even incorporate high-intensity intervals with dumbbells.

Or you can use a heavy weight and incorporate supersets to get the most bang for your buck.

There are some great dumbbells out there that allow you to easily adjust the weight all the way up to 50 pounds or more for each dumbbell, which is helpful if you are switching between multiple different exercises.

Here are some sample dumbbell exercises that will target all of your major muscle groups.

Dumbbell Pullover

  • Lie on your back and hold a dumbbell over your chest by its ends with both hands.
  • Then reach the dumbbell backward over your head with your elbows bent slightly.
  • Continue until you feel a slight stretch in your lats, then bring the dumbbell back over your chest to complete one rep.
  • Continue for 8-10 reps.

Lateral Lunge

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart while holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Step laterally to the left with your left leg and bend down into a lunge.
  • Drive through your left foot to return to the top.
  • Repeat for 8-10 reps on the left, then switch sides and repeat this on the right.

Floor Press

  • Lie on the floor or a mat while holding a dumbbell in each hand with your arms extended over your chest in a bench press position.
  • Lower your elbows to the floor with your arms at about a 45-degree angle to your chest.
  • Once your elbows touch the floor, extend your arms back up to complete one rep.
  • Repeat for 8-10 reps.

Arnold Press

  • Start in a standing position with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
  • Hold a pair of dumbbells in front of your forehead with your elbows at 90 degrees and your palms facing toward your body.
  • Then, open up your arms so that your elbows remain at 90 degrees but your hands are facing out.
  • Next press the dumbbells up towards the ceiling.
  • Now reverse the move by lowering your elbows back down to 90 degrees, then turning in your arms so that your palms are again facing your forehead.
  • That is one rep.
  • Repeat for 6-8 reps.

Hammer Curls

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with a dumbbell in each hand and your arms by your sides.
  • Your palms should be facing in toward your body.
  • Maintain this neutral grip as you curl the weights up.
  • Pause at the top and squeeze your biceps, then slowly lower back down.
  • Repeat for 8-10 reps.

Bent-Over Tricep Kickbacks

  • Start in a standing position and hinge forward at your hips with a dumbbell handing in each hand.
  • Row the weights up so that they are slightly below your chest.
  • As you keep your upper arms in line with your torso, extend your forearms back by contracting your triceps, then return the dumbbells to the starting position.
  • Repeat this for 8-10 reps.

Cardio Machines

Maintaining cardiovascular fitness is essential for every workout plan, and there are some great machines out there that can help you achieve these goals.

Many people think of slogging it out on the treadmill as the only way to get any cardio fitness indoors.

Luckily, there are so many other ways to incorporate cardio machines to keep your workouts fun and filled with variety.

Treadmill

The treadmill often gets a bad rap as a home cardio machine.

For many, it turns into a clothes hanger exiled to the corner of the bedroom.

But you can really amp up your fitness with some awesome treadmill intervals that will make a 30-minute workout fly by.

A 2019 study in the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation found numerous benefits to the gait changes that are involved in treadmill interval training.

This includes increases in metabolic demand and increased stability during speed transitions.

Also, interval training was found to increase mental focus which helps avoid the monotony of usual treadmill workouts, which increases adherence to an exercise program.

Try out this high-intensity treadmill workout at home if you are looking to spice up your home cardio regimen.

  • Minute 0-5: Warm up at an easy pace, somewhere around 5-6 mph at 1% incline.
  • Minute 5-9: Increase speed slightly to 6.5 mph, remain at a 1% incline
  • Minute 9-12: Increase speed to 7.5 mph and increase incline 2% incline
  • Minute 12-14: Increase speed to 8 mph, decrease incline to 1.5%
  • Minute 14-15: Increase speed as fast as you can maintain for the next minute at 0% incline.
  • Minute 15-19: Decrease speed back to 6.5 mph at 1% incline
  • Minute 19-22: Increase speed to 7.5 mph and increase incline to 2%
  • Minute 22-24: increase speed to 8 mph and decrease incline to 1.5%
  • Minute 24-25: Run as fast as you can maintain for the next minute at 0% incline
  • Minute 25-30: Easy cooldown, walk or jog at your own pace

Elliptical

Many people like the idea of using an elliptical at home in place of running on a treadmill.

With an elliptical, you can still get in a great heart-pumping cardio session.

In addition, most ellipticals require you to use your arms to increase your momentum, so that you are working both your upper and lower body.

You can mindlessly churn out 30 minutes on an elliptical while watching TV, but that really won’t give you the best workout.

Instead, try this fun HIIT elliptical session that will add some variety to an otherwise boring cardio day.

  • Minute 0-5: Warm up at an easy incline and resistance
  • Minute 5-7: Increase the resistance 5 and the incline 5
  • Minute 7-8: Increase the resistance to 10 and the incline to 7
  • Min 8-10: Decrease the resistance to 5, keep the incline at 7
  • Minute 10-11: Incase the resistance 12, Decrease the incline to 5
  • Minute 11-13: Decrease the resistance to 8, Increase the Incline to 7
  • Minute 13-14: Increase the resistance to 14, Keep the incline at 7
  • Minute 14-16: Decrease the resistance to 6, Increase the incline to 9
  • Minute 16-17: Increase the resistance to 14, Keep the incline at 9
  • Minute 17-19: Decrease the resistance to 9, Increase the incline to 11
  • Minute 19-20: Increase the resistance to 14, Keep the Incline at 11
  • Minute 20-23: Decrease the resistance to 9, Decrease the incline to 9
  • Minute 23-24: Increase the resistance to 12, Keep the incline at 9
  • Minute 24-25: Decrease the resistance to 7, Decrease the incline to 7
  • Minute 25-30: Cool down at an easy resistance and incline

Doorway Pull-Up Bar

The doorway pull-up bar is such an easy piece of home exercise equipment to set up and use that really everyone should have one.

Even if you aren’t stuck in quarantine, randomly doing pull-ups throughout the day is a great way to maintain awesome upper body strength and fitness.

You can hit the back and bicep muscles from all different angles with a doorway pull up bar.

And if you don’t have the strength to complete full pull-ups on your own yet, you can modify the exercises with a chair or assistance bands to help you gain strength to eventually do a pull up on your own.

Standard Pull-Ups

  • Grab the pull-up bar with your palms down and your hands shoulder-width apart.
  • Let your arms fully extend and make sure your feet are off the ground, so your entire body is suspended.
  • Then, pull with your arms as you squeeze your shoulder blades together, drawing your elbows down until your chin is level or above the bar.
  • Lower yourself back down with control, keeping your feet off the ground.

Wide Pull-Ups

  • These are performed just like a standard pull up but you will start with your grip wider than your body.
  • With a wide pull up, your arms and torso should form a ‘Y.’
  • To be more specific, each arm should be 30 to 45 degrees from your body, but no more than a 45-degree angle.
  • Look straight ahead and pull your body upwards towards the bar.
  • Pause, then lower yourself back down to the original position.
  • Wide-grip pull-ups engage the lower lats and the teres minor and help you achieve a nice V-taper in the back.

Close Grip Pull-Ups

  • Again, you will perform the same movement as a standard pull-up but start with your hands about 6-8 inches apart.
  • A close-grip pull-up is most effective in building inner lats, lower traps, and pectorals.

Negative Pull-Ups

  • Start by standing under a pull-up bar.
  • Jump up, grabbing the bar with a slightly wider than shoulder-width grip.
  • Using the momentum from your jump, pull yourself upwards until your chin is above the bar.
  • Slowly lower yourself.
  • Slowly extend your arms as you inch closer to the ground.
  • Aim for 3-5 seconds until your arms are fully extended.
  • Let go of the bar and return to the ground.
  • Repeat for the desired reps.

Ab Roller

Using an ab roller is a unique way to train your core to really get those abs muscles to pop.

To use the ab roller you grab each handle and roll out into a plank position, then return back to the starting position.

This is all done by keeping your abdominal muscles engaged, along with multiple other core muscles.

Obviously the ab roller is going to be working your rectus abdominus and oblique muscles.

But in addition to that, you will also be targeting your hip flexors, lats, chest, and deltoids to stabilize yourself throughout the entire movement.

Proper Ab Wheel Rollout

  • Start on your hands and knees and grab the ab wheel with both hands.
  • Keep your shoulders over your hands and your knees hip-width apart.
  • Then move your upper body forward as you roll the wheel out as far as you can while keeping your back in a straight line parallel to the floor as if you are moving into a plank position.
  • Pause for a moment, and then slowly roll the wheel back in, stopping about halfway to complete one rep.
  • Try to repeat 8-10 times.

Put That Home Exercise Equipment to Good Use

These are just a few examples and exercises that you can incorporate with your home exercise equipment.

As you can see, you don’t always have to go to an actual gym to get a killer workout.

You can improve your physical fitness and get great strength and cardio workouts from home.

The key is knowing the best ways to use your home equipment to get the desired results.

By adding variety to your exercise routines you can use this equipment to continue on your fitness journey, even in the midst of a lockdown.

And if you are searching for more motivation, the Fit Father Project offers additional workouts, exercises, dietary guidance, and tips from all of their professionals on staff so you never have to feel lost in your workouts.

So let go of your excuses, pick up those resistance bands and jump on that treadmill and get into the best shape of your life with your own home exercise equipment!

Holly Smith

Holly Smith M.D. - Osteopathic Medicine, B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

Holly is board-certified in nephrology and internal medicine, has a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, and is a certified personal trainer with NASM-PES certification.

Holly is a keen runner, triathlete, and fitness and nutrition enthusiast. She has completed four full ironmans, twelve marathons, countless half ironmans, Olympic distance triathlons, half marathons, and numerous other road races.

Holly joined the Fit Father Project in May 2019 as a regular writer, contributing articles on health, wellness, exercise, and nutrition.


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